Weekly Digest – 17 November 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

13 Million Booster COVID-19 Vaccines Given

More than 13 million booster jabs have been given across the UK, providing protection against the virus ahead of the winter months.

The government also accepted the advice of independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to expand the booster programme to those who are 40 to 49 years old.

£27 Million for Farmers to Boost Productivity

The Farming Investment Fund was launched on 16 November so farmers can benefit from a £27 million pot to invest in productivity-boosting equipment.

Foresters and growers are urged to apply for grants to buy new equipment and infrastructure to help to improve efficiency and build back greener. This could include solar powered electric fences, water treatment systems that use ultraviolet light rather than chemicals and cameras for monitoring livestock.

UK Plans to Boost Overseas Trade

The government has announced its plans to boost the UK’s annual exports to £1 trillion by the end of the decade.

Last year, the UK exported about £600 billion in goods and services. However, only one in 10 British firms trades overseas. As part of the plan, government agencies such as UK Export Finance will offer new services to help UK exporters to secure business. Additionally, there will be a new UK trade show programme to help UK companies exhibit their products at international events.

Economy Grows 0.6% in September

The UK’s economy grew by 0.6% in September but estimates for previous months were revised lower, leaving GDP 0.6% smaller compared to February 2020.

The economy is losing its post-lockdown momentum due to global supply chain problems and caution on the part of businesses. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast monthly gross domestic product growth of 0.4% for September.

The growth in September was supported by stronger output in the health sector, leading to a 0.7% rise in the services sector from August. However, industrial output fell by 0.4% as gas distribution shrank for the fourth consecutive month.

£624 Million of Loan Funding for New Infrastructure

Loan funding of at least £624 million will be available for house builders, including SMEs, to improve the vital infrastructure needed to kick-start new housing projects.

This loan funding paves the way for up to 116,000 new homes to support people on to the housing ladder. Additionally, it will support smaller building firms and create thousands of new jobs.

New Laws and Code of Practice to Resolve Commercial Rent Debts

From 25 March 2022, new laws introduced in the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, will establish a legally-binding arbitration process for commercial landlords and tenants who have not yet reached an agreement, following the principles in the Code of Practice.

The new laws will be implemented in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland will have a power to introduce similar legislation. The Commercial Rent Bill will apply to commercial rent debts related to the mandated closure of certain businesses such as pubs, gyms and restaurants during the pandemic.

Starting 10 November, the government is also protecting commercial tenants from debt claims, including County Court Judgements (CCJs), High Court Judgements (HCJs) and bankruptcy petitions, issued against them in relation to rent arrears accrued during the pandemic.

Cold Weather Payment Scheme

From 1 November, households will become eligible for the Cold Weather Payment scheme which involves a weekly reduction on their energy bills.

You can receive this payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days. Eligible individuals will get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November 1 and 31 March 2022.

£500 Million Plan for Jobs Expansion

Workers leaving the furlough scheme and unemployed individuals over 50 years old will be supported back into work as part of more than £500m expansion of the government’s Plan for Jobs. People earning the lowest wages will also benefit and existing schemes targeting young people will be extended into next year as part of the new package.

Starting in April 2022, the Government is enhancing its programme of support for workers on Universal Credit.

SME Brexit Support Fund

The SME Brexit Support Fund will help businesses adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

Traders can apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support for importing and exporting. This fund will help businesses prepare for the implementation of import controls that will take effect from April and July.

More details can be found here.

Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme:

  • Provides funding to employers to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit
  • Covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage) for 25 hours a week for a total of six months
  • Also covers National Insurance contributions
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021

Applications close in December. More information can be found here.

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